Perspectives on the Use of Liquid Extraction for Radioisotope Purification

Molecules. 2019 Jan 18;24(2):334. doi: 10.3390/molecules24020334.


The reliable and efficient production of radioisotopes for diagnosis and therapy is becoming an increasingly important capability, due to their demonstrated utility in Nuclear Medicine applications. Starting from the first processes involving the separation of 99mTc from irradiated materials, several methods and concepts have been developed to selectively extract the radioisotopes of interest. Even though the initial methods were based on liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) approaches, the perceived difficulty in automating such processes has slowly moved the focus towards resin separation methods, whose basic chemical principles are often similar to the LLE ones in terms of chelators and phases. However, the emerging field of flow chemistry allows LLE to be easily automated and operated in a continuous manner, resulting in an even improved efficiency and reliability. In this contribution, we will outline the fundamentals of LLE processes and their translation into flow-based apparatuses; in addition, we will provide examples of radioisotope separations that have been achieved using LLE methods. This article is intended to offer insights about the future potential of LLE to purify medically relevant radioisotopes.

Keywords: liquid-liquid extraction; nuclear medicine; purification; radioisotopes; radiometals; separation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Liquid-Liquid Extraction* / instrumentation
  • Liquid-Liquid Extraction* / methods
  • Nuclear Medicine / instrumentation
  • Nuclear Medicine / methods
  • Radioisotopes / isolation & purification*


  • Radioisotopes